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In modern history and modern culture, faith is pervasive. It empowers human nature with purpose through the creation of objectives and value structures. They can coordinate and motivate all facets of the life of an individual. It is hard to describe with accuracy due to the breadth and depth of spirituality. Withstanding these difficulties of nomenclature, it has often been described in conflicting terms by researchers of the philosophy of spirituality and faith. For example, the relation to an otherworldly existence that brings purpose to human lives. It is the link to one’s society and the entire human species, probably encountered through spiritual practice. In the case of Secular western society, it is through meditation.

While spirituality is becoming more and more understood as a central aspect of well-being, sometimes the aura of spirituality is neglected.

What is Spiritual Bypassing?

The word spiritual bypass was first created by John Welwood, a psychologist and Buddhist practitioner, in 1984. He saw this as especially tempting for people unable to manage the essential steps in the progress of their lives. The net effect was that many people ended up using spiritual rituals to mask their psychological needs and personality, Welwood noticed. In the spiritual life, spiritual by-passers may read novels on spirituality, conduct spiritual activities, go to spiritual retreats, and become part of spiritual groups. But they do not provide for or nurture emotional needs, assuming that perhaps the spiritual practice will one day get them out of their psychological trauma. As others have theorized, they face stagnating mental progress and even worse mental distress by avoiding therapeutic work.

The word “spiritual bypass” was later used by Charles Whitfield in recovered literature (1987, 1991, 2003), who ignored or circumvented the therapeutic work required to spring straight into spirituality (e.g. circumvention of their addiction). Irrespective of the phraseology used the basic idea of the situation stayed the same: shelter in faith to escape psychiatric issues that were not fixed.

Causes and Impact of Spiritual Bypassing:

The term called a spiritual bypass can be characterized as a protective psychological stance. It is developed by a propensity to prioritize or overstate spiritual values, feelings or perceptions above and toward emotional needs. It is a growing field of study in this field and can be described as a protective psychological attitude. It is developed by a propensity to ignore or circumvent challenging feelings or interactions. It isn’t necessarily bad to bypass spiritually. It will temporarily alleviate irritation or discomfort in periods of extreme distress. Psychologists, however, say that if used as a long-term approach to fixing issues, it may be harmful.

If we spiritually bypass, we always use the purpose of enlightenment or release to rationalize what Welwood called premature transcendence. It is to try to stand above the coarse and chaotic side of our humanity, before facing it in its entirety and achieving harmony. Then we prefer to use total reality to ignore or deny specific human desires, psychological difficulties, relationship problems, and developmental disabilities. He saw it as an “occupational danger” of the spiritual direction, which requires a view that reaches beyond our present karmic role in spirituality.

Spiritual circumvention typically happens when one party embraces the polarized mindset that “human” concerns are trivial. They believe that spiritual circumvention inevitably neglects connections and other daily facets of existence. Spiritual activities and practices should also be shared, establishing a distance between the advanced spiritual experience and the extent of the individual’s personal growth (Welwood, 2000). In brief, the metaphysical bypass is used to stop the frequently difficult and frustrating therapeutic work of repairing old feelings.

Since spiritual bypasses are a means of escape, they ultimately allow a variety of negative effects to be manifested. That includes an excessive desire to influence others: guilt, anxiety, dichotomous thought and emotional uncertainty. There is also high tolerance to improper behavior, co-dependence and discomfort. Other detrimental effects of the spiritual bypass will be addiction, abuse, belief in inspirational teachers, as well as the disavowal of personal responsibilities. Finally, spiritual bypass threatens long-term spiritual health, because the spiritual growth process continues unfulfilled.

In its clinical practice, Masters described the principal signs of the spiritual bypass as suppression and emotional isolation. There is over-reliance on optimism, naive and tolerant love, ignoring of one’s shadow, over-assessment of self-awakening and the thought of all as a delusion including misery. While scholars also have to establish how spiritual circumvention propagates, some thinkers view it as a normal process for persons who follow a spiritual journey. Certain negative impacts on spiritual circumvention are likely to exist. Writers such as Masters and Forman clarify spiritual circumvention is in some situations necessary and a normal phase of spiritual growth.

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Welwood’s Take:

Owing to the role of faith in many human livelihoods, psychologists must be able to distinguish how spiritual values and behaviors of their patients can interfere with spiritual bypass. This means that metaphysical bypass can be recognized, contextualized, and successfully handled.

Every one of us, at least partly, turned to Dharma as a means of overcoming the discomfort of our psychological and emotional wounds. However, the existence or degree of this condition is sometimes ignored or subconscious. We know something is wrong and wish to be rid of the pain.

Meditation is often used mostly to avoid pain and unfinished situations in life. It may increase a propensity towards dullness, detachment, or emotional disengagement in the event of ignoring your thoughts or injuries. It is a failure whether you contribute explicitly to your emotions or straightforwardly portray yourself. If we have to face up to our injury or feelings or the main desire for affection, it can be very dangerous.

Non-attachment is the ultimate instruction. Our disposition is completely unattached fundamentally. A Buddhist connection has a negative sense of attachment. Our nature doesn’t have to cling to it being free and available. However, to develop into a stable person, we need to have an existing relationship in the constructive, relational sense. Developing strong interpersonal relations with those who foster connection, a balanced identity and social well-being is important.

Welwood speaks about “unpacking and tracking”: you watch the process, carefully follow it and look where it goes. And you unravel the values, personalities, and emotions are encountered subconsciously or indirectly. It means unlocking a sticky yarn ball as we lift our knowledge of this experience: various nodes are slowly exposed, and one after one unlocked. As a consequence, we will be active at sites which we were missing or avoided. By reaching for those of us who need our assistance, we build a strong, meaningful inner bond with ourselves that will more effectively help us communicate with those who are still stranded.

He observed that all individuals can support each other therapeutically as they partake in both the therapeutic and meditative activity. They combine and bring the path of regeneration and enlightenment. There are times when one way of operating is best suited to coping with a particular situation, often the other.

Non-attachment is an innovative lesson concerning human development. Welwood proposed that until true non-attachment is feasible, we must have a satisfactory human relationship. Otherwise, anyone who has an unstable binding would potentially associate nonbinding with preventative binding behavior. Attachment is indeed dangerous and terrifying to avoidant types of people. Thus, healing for the obvious would mean that they can experience a desire for human connectivity, instead of circumventing it spiritually. When this occurs, non-attachment becomes more meaningful.


The study of this topic remains nevertheless new in the clinical field. It is critical enough for psychologists to understand how to recognize, contextualize, and interfere therapeutically because psychotherapy can be disrupted by a moral bypass. Probable negative consequences of spiritual bypass also include a desire to overstep others and the self, guilt, fear, dichotomous thought and mental uncertainty. Inappropriately tolerant behavior, compulsive frivolity, dependency and addictions, blind obedience towards inspirational instructors and personal unwillingness towards duties may be other concerns. Despite such challenges, scientists have also indicated that metaphysical bypass acts as a method to mitigate the impact of psychological distress, showing that pragmatic motives are present for use.

Any person must be transparent with themselves until they discover any types of spiritual bypassing that might have taken place in their lives. They ought to be prepared to be wrong, indifferent or utterly incorrect. Anyone would be fooling themselves without that openness. Thus, foster a willing and open-minded mentality. Know it is all right to be flawed, that’s what makes us human.

The symptoms exhibited by someone who is emotionally bypassing:

  • Not concentrating on what’s in front most of the time and existing in a mystical world.
  • The positive is overemphasized and the negative is avoided.
  • Acting self-righteous regarding the idea of enlightenment
  • Being excessively disconnected
  • Being excessively utopian
  • Getting entitlement sentiments
  • Exhibiting frustration regularly
  • Being involved in willful ignorance
  • Being unnecessarily sympathetic

Trying to pretend it’s all right if it isn’t